Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Beaujolais is back baby!

Wines from Beaujolais wines continue to see impressive growth in the British market with export volume and value up 22% and 17% respectively in 2019 - more than any other French wine region. 

Beaujolais tends to be a lighter-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity and lower tannins.

The growth was constant throughout the year - and if Beaujolais is doing well in the gloomy UK climes then it should be doing even better in Australia, where the sunshine makes the style perfect for enjoying chilled.

Rebecca Fraser, head of marketing at Louis Latour Agencies which represents Henry Fessy, told The Drinks Business said that Beaujolais’s success was continuing apace because: “The wines are approachable, fresh, and fruit driven, perfect for regular drinking but also come with a great story. 

"They always strike a chord with consumers when we sample them. They also offer great value, whether it be the wine drinker who wants a simple fruity Beaujolais or someone interested in exploring the characteristics of the different Cru appellations.”

C├ęcile Bossan-Redon, managing director at Inter Beaujolais, said: “We are proud to have such a healthy increase in exports to the UK. There is now more choice of Beaujolais wines available on UK shelves than ever before, which we believe is a huge contributing factor to its continued popularity.

“Despite the uncertainties raised around Brexit, we have remained committed to the UK market and it’s been important for us to continue to demonstrate the dynamic range and choice Beaujolais wines have to offer, which we believe the increase in export figures represent.”

Wines from Beaujolais are largely made from the gamay grape. The region is situated just north of Lyon.

Positive wine news from Margaret River

After a vintage in which several regions of Australia were blighted by bush fires and resultant smoke taint, the news is rather more positive from Margaret River in Western Australia. 

The Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland today reported the wrap-up of an "exceptional" vintage.
Vintage at Juniper Estate: Russell Ord Photos

"The region raises a collective sigh of relief to have been able to complete the 2020 vintage undisrupted; without significant rain, lockdowns or the impact of bushfires and losses that sadly, some regions in other parts of Australia have had to endure," the MRWA said in a statement. 

"We are humbly counting our blessings.

"The region enjoyed an early start to the season, with warmer-than-average spring temperatures evolving into the perfect summer growing conditions. 

"Low disease pressure, timely flowering of native Marri trees to keep the birds at bay and little to no rain meant that growers could literally 'take their pick' when they wanted." 

While quality is up, yields down. 

The 2020 vintage will see "one of the smallest harvests in recent years". 

"Lower yields have resulted in exceptional fruit that is physiologically ripe and shows divine concentration of aromas and flavours. While the 2020 vintage from Margaret River will be in scarce supply, it will be a very special vintage to look out for."

Resilient Kangaroo Island wildlife bounces back

Rare Kangaroo Island wildlife species including the dunnart (above) and the KI echidna have been captured on wildlife cameras by the non-governmental organisation Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife.

Sightings of tiny dunnarts using motion-sensing cameras are particularly heartening after fears habitat destruction would decimate the threatened nocturnal marsupials, which only number between 300 and 500.

Bush fires burned about 200,000 hectares of land on the island - almost half its land mass - and especially protected areas of bush in which dunnarts are found.

South Australia’s chief ecologist at the Department for Environment and Water Dr Dan Rogers said specialist advice from some of the world’s leading experts in the rare species was helping.

“Prof Chris Dickman, he knows more about dunnarts generally than anyone else in the world, he was on the phone to us talking us through the biggest risk during the fire and immediately after,” Dr Rogers said.

“After the fire the dunnarts that survived were being found in relatively high densities in unburnt patches and we thought they would be honey pots for the remaining cats on the island… we tried to reduce the risk from the cats.”

Now, the mouse-like creatures that have a pouch like a kangaroo for their babies and are related to quolls and Tasmanian devils, are looking safer.

“They have got a lot of fight for their size,” Dr Rogers said.

More than 90% of the dunnart’s habitat was burned and the non-governmental organisation Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife is working with landowners and National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia to monitor the threatened species.

About 50 motion-sensing cameras are set up in 10 of the larger unburnt patches of parkland and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy has built a cat-proof fence around one dunnart population on private land on the west coast of Kangaroo Island.

Early work to use aeration pumps to mimic water movement and improve circulation also appears to have helped save the only platypus habitat on the island in the burned Rocky River region of the Flinders Chase National Park.

The rare duck-billed semi-aquatic mammals survived the fire that destroyed vegetation along with the nearby visitor centre, housing and campground.

Fears ash and soil runoff from land denuded of vegetation would rob their pond of oxygen were quickly addressed.

“We installed the pumps before two days of rain, a lot of ash went into the pond but the platypus survived that with the pumps providing benefits,” Dr Rogers said.

He said volunteer support and donations from around the world to protect wildlife had been overwhelming, even famed actors like Jamie Foxx in the United States raising funds for Kangaroo Island wildlife.

“Some of these species people around the world have never even heard about and suddenly people are donating to help them, the profile of threatened species throughout the bushfires has been remarkable,” Dr Rogers said.

“There are many species on Kangaroo Island found elsewhere in the country, but because they have been isolated they have their own unique forms.”

One of the most heart-warming images for Dr Rogers occurred during a walk through the charred and lifeless fire ground a few weeks ago.

“An echidna comes trundling around out there just getting on with its business,” he said.

"It was particularly positive to see the endangered short-beaked echidna was still surviving on the blackened grounds where there was little sign of life."

Dr Rogers said despite the creatures being slow moving they were resourceful, many burrowed underground or sheltered under logs to survive the flames – their favourite food, termites and ants, seemed to have survived in a similar fashion.

There was an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 of the unique echidnas living on the island before the fire but about 50% of their habitat was burned.

This subspecies has longer, thinner and paler-coloured spines than echidnas found elsewhere on mainland Australia.

Kangaroo Island is also home to an important population of koalas that because of their isolation have remained free of the Chlamydia infection plaguing mainland populations.

Before the bush fires there was an estimated 50,000 of the iconic creatures living on the island but now early estimations put that figure at between 5000 and 10,000. 

# Information from The Lead South Australia 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Somewhere fun to stay in Glasgow

Glasgow is a destination that has transformed itself in recent years and the hip The Moxy Hotel Merchant City hotel is just a short stroll from the centre of Scotland's buzziest city. 

It is in a lively area known for its many eateries, student bars, art galleries and coffee shops.

The funky Moxy is part of the Marriott group and is just a short walk from both Glasgow Cathedral and the landmark George Square. 

There is a casual vibe with friendly staff and the rooms feature complimentary wifi, flat-screen TVs and tea- and coffee-making facilities.

It's easy to find someone to chat with around the bar and games area - and the multicutural staff are very helpful. 

Amenities include an industrial-chic 24-hour cafe/bar with a lively vibe, a lounge and a fitness centre. 

Prices start from under $100 per night for a small rooms but rise steeply in peak periods, so it pays to book in advance. 

This is a version of a story that appeared in Winestate Magazine. 

Monday, 30 March 2020

Criminally good? Wine brand launches its own beer.

The 19 Crimes brand has been Australia’s leading wine growth brand over the past 12 months.

It has been so successful that it has now spawned a younger brother - a 19 Crimes beer.

Currently a limited edition, targeted at millennial craft beer drinkers who are on the lookout for something new, the 19 Crimes Pale Ale features similar packaging, complete with the brand's "mug shot" experience.

Named after 18th and 19th-century British rogues sentenced to live in Australia as punishment because they were found guilty of at least one of 19 Crimes, the brand celebrates the rules they broke.

The 19 Crimes Pale Ale will be on sale through Cellarbrations, The Bottle-O, IGA Liquor and Ritchies liquor outlets, along with select on-premise and independent retailers.

“Creating a Pale Ale felt like a natural, obvious next step for the brand as we know that our wine consumers equally enjoy discovering craft beer," said brand manager Laura Wenn.

“We are confident that the 19 Crimes Pale Ale will prove successful with millennials thanks to its crisp taste, distinctive packaging and our ‘talking’ augmented reality label.”

19 Crimes was launched in Canada in 2011, was launched in the USA in 2012, followed by Australia in 2014. Sales exceed 1.6 million cases annually. The beer launch follows successful beer releases in other markets.

The 2020 Olympics will be held in 2021 but ...

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been rescheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

Despite being switched from June to 2021, the Games will retain the name Tokyo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes - a piece of bizarre logic of which the Monty Python.troupe would be proud.

The 16th Summer Paralympic Games are now scheduled to take place in Tokyo from August 24 to September 5, 2021.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said, with trademark Olympic hyperbole, that the Games could provide a 'light at the end of a dark tunnel of humanity' for the world.

He said the new dates "exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020 also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the IFS."

Bach added: "This is a huge challenge. It is unprecedented. We don't have a blueprint. We have no experts to refer to.

"Now, we have to work and we're working already with the international federations.

"We have to take the qualification into consideration — what it means for the athletes.

"We have to see, and in particular the organising committee will have to see, whether the sports venues are still available. What is happening with all the installations which have already been accomplished for the games in 2020."

So, thanks to the coronavirus, we have sporting chaos all round - with several Olympic sports having world championships scheduled for 2021 that will have to be rescheduled. 

And what of the hotel rooms that have already been booked for conventions in 2021 but will now be needed by the Olympics? 

For now there are more questions than answers.   

Party central Phuket goes into lockdown

The Thai island of Phuket has long been known as party central with its many pubs, bars and nightclubs catering to all tastes, as well as hundreds of beach resorts.

But now the lights are going out in Phuket with governor Phakaphong Tavipatana issuing a directive for residents and the few remaining tourists to stay off the streets after dark.

The governor called for the "collaboration" of local residents and tourists across Phuket to comply and stay indoors between 8pm to 3am each night, local media reported.

The only exception is for 'urgent errands.'

The majority of the Phuket economy, over 56%, is based on tourism with bar workers, dancers and massage parlour workers all without incomes at this time.

Phuket says strict measures are also in force to prevent people planning to travel to other provinces in Thailand.

"Inspection will be strictly applied in the case of traveling to other provinces," the governor's order said.

The Thai Government has imposed a state of emergency which halts most international travel and restricts overland travel between provinces.

The Phuket Communicable Disease Committee announced another six Covid-19 cases today, bringing the total number to 47.

A total of 52 hotels in Phuket have announced their plans to close due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, Thai Hotels Association (THA) chairman Kalin Sarasin announced over the weekend. Thai authorities are also reducing flights.